Diet is a major factor that contributes to one’s total wellbeing. According to Ayurveda, everything in the environment is the same as what is within us therefore what we consume becomes a part of us. The emphasis on food here is on its taste and qualities. Food is an important part of living and therefore it is important to get it right. Eating proper food makes a big difference to our well-being. There are two aspects to food and nutrition in Ayurveda – physical food that we eat, digest, and assimilate where our organs of our digestive system play a big role. The other is what we consume through our senses from what we see, hear, taste, smell, feel and think – these being all-important and impact on our health considerably.
Ayurveda takes a different approach to achieving good health. It looks at the person as a whole to eliminate the cause of diseases. It states that the individual constitution or “Prakrti” is a key factor in deciding what one should eat. Ayurvedic diet and nutrition is tailor-made to suit individual requirement as such special attention is given to every person. It is personalised and varies from person to person.
The other characteristic of an Ayurvedic diet is the emphasis on the metabolic fire or “Agni” in a person. Agni is the digestive and metabolic “fire” produced by the doshas that takes the essence of nourishment from food, feelings, and thoughts and transforms them into a form our body can use. This Agni differs in every individual because of his or her Prakrti or Virkrti (imbalances) hence the type and amount of food consumed directly relates to a person’s digestive ability. There are different types of Agni that are major influences in metabolism and maintaining energy levels. Ayurveda works with the knowledge of the Agni in a person in order to recommend appropriate diet so that proper digestion and absorption can take place.
The main objective is to promote a healthy balanced diet or “Pathya” which provides all necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates that one needs. An absence of this leads to diseases as it gives rise to reduced energy levels that is necessary for tissue (dhatu) formation and function. It also gives fuel for our emotions and hence it is an entire mind-body system. Food is holistic.
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